As FDA Rules Go Into Effect, Brewers Association Launches Nutrient Database
With small-scale brewers left at a disadvantage by forthcoming nutrition requirements at restaurants, the Brewers Association is getting its members ready by launching a Beer Nutrient Database to make it easier to share nutrition information for small-batch brews. BA credited the FDA for working with it on finding a solution.
The Brewers Association (BA) has had a tough job ahead of it because of the Food and Drug Administration’s forthcoming requirement, which takes effect May 5, that nutrition information be listed with menu items at restaurants.
The reason? Craft beers are often brewed in small batches, making calorie counts difficult to nail down for obscure and seasonal beers. So, when the Beer Institute announced plans to voluntarily share nutrition information about its products with retailers, BA’s members couldn’t immediately follow suit.
“The approach the large brewers have taken may not be feasible for smaller brewers, many of whom offer dozens of small-scale, seasonal products every year,” BA President and CEO Bob Pease said last year.
But with the FDA regulations about to take effect, BA has a plan in place to note the calorie counts of specific varieties of beer—be they oatmeal stout or Australian-style pale ale.
Last week, it announced the launch of its Beer Nutrient Database, which will include those kinds of beers, along with 39 other varieties. The approach allows brewers to offer nutritional information about their beers without having to go through the often-complicated work of offering calorie counts for limited-release beers. It includes an online calculator, as well as base guidelines for each type of beer.
“Using a robust analytical testing program, the BA has built a database that reflects average nutritional value of nine lesser nutrients (total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, dietary fiber, sugars, and protein),” the association stated.
BA strategized with the FDA’s help. Paul Gatza, the director of BA, noted that the FDA suggested the association do more robust testing on its end, then share that information as a starting point for members.
“I credit FDA’s collaborative approach with stakeholders to work together toward a solution that shouldn’t require each brewer to send their beers in for complex and expensive lab testing for little public benefit,” Gatza wrote in a blog post in December.
While the database will get brewers most of the way, it does have some limitations, Food & Wine notes. Unusual ingredients—think coffee or offbeat spices—won’t work in the database, nor will any beers with additions made after fermentation.
But in most cases, the strategy will help brewers avoid a costly testing process.